Many people will tell you to ignore preseason statistics when projecting regular season outcomes, but I am not one of these people. I think that, while most preseason statistics are noise, there are definitely a few signals that we can find with proper analysis that will help us to identify trends and project outcomes for the regular season, especially early in the season when we have little to no other data to use. With that said, let’s take a look at each team and see what we can learn from the preseason which may help us to be ahead of the curve as the regular season begins.
I’ll mostly be looking at Usage Rates, Offensive, Defensive, and Net ratings, Pace, and True Shooting Percentages.
Usage Rate refers to the percentage of the team’s possessions an individual player uses on offense. For Daily Fantasy purposes, we’re normally going to be looking for guys that have at least a 20% USG rate, and the higher the better.
Offensive ratings refer to the amount of points scored per 100 possessions for a team or an individual player when they are on the floor. Defensive ratings refer to the amount of points allowed per 100 possessions, and Net ratings are just Offensive ratings minus Defensive ratings. Pace refers to the number of possessions a team or player executes per 48 minutes of court time.
True Shooting Percentage is an aggregate of a player’s field goal percentage on 2 point attempts, 3 points attempts, and their free throw percentage, weighting them equally for the point value of each shot.
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Projected Standings by Season Win Totals
- Cleveland Cavaliers (56.5)
- Boston Celtics (52.5)
- Toronto Raptors (50.5)
- Indiana Pacers (45.5)
- Detroit Pistons (44.5)
- Atlanta Hawks (43.5)
- Charlotte Hornets (42.5)
- Washington Wizards (42.5)
- New York Knicks (40.5)
- Chicago Bulls (39.5)
- Orlando Magic (37.5)
- Milwaukee Bucks (35.5)
- Miami Heat (34.5)
- Philadelphia 76ers (24.5)
- Brooklyn Nets (21.5)
Cleveland Cavaliers – Not much to talk about here, the Cavs are the class of the Eastern Conference and are heavy favorites to represent them in the Finals (-225). The starters hardly played in the pre-season, and when they did, they looked dominant. Lebron carried a 17.4 net rating (102.9/85.5) in about 57 minutes, all 5 regular starters played at a pace over 105 although the pace will typically slow once the regular season begins, and the older backups (Dunleavy, Frye, Birdman Anderson) played well in limited action. With a solid second unit, the Cavs will have a legitimate chance at blowing out most average teams, and they certainly won’t be looking to tax their main cogs with heavy minutes to start the year. Lebron (25 preseason usage rate) will always be a great floor play, but I think we may see him defer to Kyrie (29 USG) and Kevin Love (25 USG) to start the year, especially in their easier matchups. Jordan McRae was a preseason darling, posting a 27.3 usage rate, and Kay Felder posted a 23 usage rate on his way to winning the backup point guard job, keep an eye on these guys, they may get increased run in potential blowouts.
Boston Celtics – Boston welcomed underrated star Al Horford into the fold this year to sure up their front line, they’re coached by arguably the best coach in the Eastern Conference in Brad Stevens, and I think they’re in their own tier in the Eastern Conference behind the Cavs and clearly ahead of the rest of the field. The Celtics’ starting 5 all carried a net rating of at least 21 in roughly 90-100 minutes in the preseason. Al Horford is playing the 4 with the starting unit, he posted a 22.5 usage rate with a 72.4 TS% (!!) in the preseason while Jared Sullinger played to a 21.8 usage rate last year, so I don’t think his presence will have a negative impact on the volume for the other starters, if anything I think they’ll become more efficient with Horford in the lineup, he played to a 118.2 offensive rating in the preseason. Outside of Horford, I’m the most interested in Avery Bradley heading into the season. Avery posted a 53.8 TS% and 20 USG rate last year, but was at 56 TS% / 23 USG rate in the preseason and looked much more comfortable off the dribble, which could threaten some of Isaiah Thomas’ playing time as Avery’s a far superior defender. Isaiah did see a small dip in the preseason, posting a 27.7 USG rate after playing to a 29.3 USG rate last season, but with Marcus Smart on the shelf with an ankle injury to start the season, I don’t think this will impact Isaiah’s fantasy output to begin the season. Speaking of Marcus Smart’s injury, Terry Rozier stands to benefit the most as the main backup guard, and he acquitted himself very well this preseason, posting a 63.6 TS% on a 19.4 usage rate. Al Horford and Avery Bradley are the 2 Celtics I’m most looking forward to playing to begin the season, especially because they’re both routinely underpriced on Daily Fantasy sites. Isaiah Thomas will definitely be squarely in play to start the season as well, but you’ll come to find that he is not my favorite player and I’ll normally be looking for reasons not to play him, and I think that will start as soon as Marcus Smart returns from injury.
Toronto Raptors – Coming off a 49 win 2015-2016 season which saw them advance to the Eastern Conference finals, vegas is projecting another strong season for the Raptors with the third highest win total at 50.5 Jared Sullinger, the main off-season acquisition for the Raptors, is already on the shelf due to a surgery to insert a screw into his fifth metatarsal, and he has no timetable for a return, so I’ll be treating him as a non-factor. The Raptors replaced him in the starting lineup with Pascal Siakam, and I would not be surprised to see that continue into the regular season, Dwayne Casey has spoken highly of the rookie out of New Mexico State, and I believe he prefers to have Patrick Patterson come off the bench to provide an additional scoring option for the second unit, but I think he’ll probably play the 4 in crunch time with the starting unit as well. Siakam won’t be a factor in fantasy basketball, and I’m not sure anyone will be for this team outside of Kyle Lowry (27.2 preaseason USG) and Demar Derozan (38 !!! preseason usage). Lowry posted a 26 usage rate last year while Derozan played to a 29.7. When these guys are on the court, they are chucking up shots without hesitation, and that’s great for us in fantasy basketball, but maybe not so great for the Raptors in real life basketball. I love the under on their 50.5 season win total, but I also love targeting Lowry and Derozan in Daily Fantasy because of their monster usage rates and the fact that they will be hard pressed to run any team out of the gym, which means we should see heavy minutes and tons of shots for both of them to start the year. All 5 of the Raptors starters played to a negative net rating in the preseason, and Dwayne Casey hates Jonas Valanciunas despite the fact that he single handedly carried them into the Eastern Conference Finals last year, so I’ll be loading up on Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan to start the year, and I think playing them both in the same lineup is a very viable strategy. Valanciunas will always be a good tournament option because he’s a good player with good upside if he gets the opportunities, but his usage rate would have to increase significantly to get himself into the conversation as a cash player. Cory Joseph, Terrence Ross, and Patrick Patterson will be guys to monitor as well, Ross can fill it up in a hurry off the bench and Joseph and Patterson both frequently push for 30 minutes because they see run with the starters, but Lowry and Derozan will be the only real targets here until we see otherwise.
Indiana Pacers – The Indiana Pacers are one of the most intriguing teams coming into the 2016-2017 basketball season, adding a new Point Guard in Jeff Teague, a new Power Foward in Thad Young, a new Coach in Nate McMillan, and, most importantly, getting stud Myles Turner into the lineup as the starting Center, where he has been much more productive in his young career. The starting 5 all played to a positive net rating in the pre-season, they played at a scorching pace in the 106-107 range, and no starter had a usage rate over 23 (Teague, Paul George) or under 17.7 (Thad). Paul George is obviously their best player in real life as well as fantasy, but he may not be the best Daily Fantasy play in terms of points per dollar to begin the season if these very even usage rates continue. I’d expect George’s usage to climb as the games start to matter, but this is probably the most talented offensive cast he’s played with, he may not be counted on as much. If the salaries are consistent with what we saw last year, Myles Turner will be a great play at a very low cost and a guy I’m looking to use every time out to start the season. The Pacers also bring a solid second unit off the bench with Joe Young, Rodney Stuckey, Glenn Robinson, C.J. Miles, and big Al Jefferson. Somehow Aaron Brooks also got run in the pre-season, I think Joe Young is about 10x the player he is at this point, but Brooks will probably be the backup point to start the season. Big Al (23.8) and Rodney Stuckey (25.7) had the highest preseason usage rates, but I don’t think either will be particularly fantasy relevant. I’ll be comfortable fading this team outside of Myles Turner to begin the year, if the usage rates start to concentrate as the season unfolds, I think we’ll be able to get some viable fantasy plays, because this should be a pretty efficient offensive team with a solid pace. I also think they certainly have the potential to outperform their season win-total of 45.5 with a very solid cast around MVP-candidate Paul George, but Nate McMillan is such a big unknown, I wouldn’t be comfortable betting on it.
Detroit Pistons – Reggie Jackson is set to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season with Ish Smith filling in as his backup. Ish posted a 16 USG rate in the preseason, if his price is low enough he’ll be an option to start the season as he should see large minutes and handle the ball plenty, but he doesn’t shoot a lot, and he doesn’t make enough of the shots he does take, so he’s never going to be a guy I’m falling over myself to roster. Ray McCallum is set to play the back-up point guard, but it’s also very possible Stanley Johnson is given some of the ball handling duties with the second unit and I think he’s a much better player than either Ish or Ray, so he’ll be a guy I’m keeping my eye on to begin the season. Andre Drummond posted the highest USG rate of the starters in the preseason at 24.6, consistent with his 24 from last season. Drummond posted a 29.6 rebounding %, up from his 24.4% last year, but I would expect that to regress as the competition gets more intense. Drummond is always a popular play, but again not a guy that I’m ever falling over myself to roster because 1. He can’t shoot and 2. He’s prone to fouling and general mental lapses. Detroit brought in Boban Marjanovic in the off-season, and they still have Aron Baynes on the roster, so they have very capable backup centers if/when Drummond gets into trouble, lowering his minute floor. My favorite players to use from the Pistons are Tobias Harris, who posted a 23 usage rate and 57.7 TS% in the presason, and Marcus Morris (22 USG, 61.7TS%). However, I have some concern with this team in general, mainly their preseason pace, after playing at a 97.4 pace last year, they played at a 97 pace in the preseason, and this is a snail’s pace by modern NBA standards. They also only allowed 0.92 points per possession in the preseason and were top 10 in rebounding rate (51.8%). I think it’s very possible SVG wants to slow the pace, play good defense, and dominate the boards while the team is without their starting point guard, so I may be hesitant to target guys in Pistons games to begin the season.
Atlanta Hawks – There have been some major changes over the off-season in Atlanta, mainly the departures of Jeff Teague and Al Horford and the addition of home-town hero Dwight Howard. This year’s starting 5 brings a much different skill set than last year’s, and I think we’ve already seen a shift in offensive philosophy to begin the season. Coach Mike Budenholzer has proven to be a very proficient head coach in years past, and I expect him to get the most out of this roster and field a competitive team night-in and night-out. The Hawks seem to have transitioned into a heavy pick-and-roll basketball team, which makes a lot of sense given the fact that Dwight Howard is really only useful on offense as a roll man and offensive rebounder, and new point guard Dennis Schroder isn’t a great outside shooter but has the quickness to get to the basket consistently. I’m not a big fan of Schroder in general, you’ll find that I never like to play guys in Daily Fantasy that aren’t good shooters. I also don’t think he’s a particularly good decision maker at the point guard and is more turnover prone than I’d prefer, and his jump into the starting lineup won’t help either as he will consistently face stiffer competition. With that said, if his price point is low enough, he may be a must play to start the season based on the volume of opportunity he will see on a daily basis, and he should make a better play on Draftkings than Fanduel. Now, on to the guys I am excited to play on this roster: Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard. Millsap is a terrific basketball player, should see an uptick in usage without Horford and Teague (27 in the preseason, up from 24 last year), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that go even higher as the season begins, Millsap is the best playmaker of the starting 5 and they’ll need to rely on him to win games. Millsap put up 1.24 Draftkings points per minute in his 72 preseason minutes, and I’d expect that rate to hold or rise in the regular season. Speaking of Draftkings points per minute, Dwight Howard posted an eye-popping 1.41 ppm. Dwight was definitely hampered by injuries at times last year, but he looks very spry right now, I think Budenholzer is putting him in situations to succeed in the offense, and he looks capable and engaged on the defensive end. Dwight is a major buy for me to begin the season, I don’t know how long he’ll hold up, but as long as he’s healthy, I want him in my lineups. Kyle Korver is a guy I don’t really like to play because he doesn’t do much outside of catch and shoot, but he did shoot it very well in the preseason (80.6 TS%) and deserves consideration coming into the season. Kent Bazemore is a solid option, he can do a little bit of everything and may end up finding some easy buckets on weak-side cuts and wide-open catch and shoot 3’s as the defense focuses on covering the pick and roll. I’m not falling over myself to roster him out of the gate, but I’m definitely not afraid to use him either. Atlanta has traditionally been a good defensive team, and every starter posted a defensive rating under 90 in the pre-season. I think they’ll at the very least be a solid rebounding team, and their defensive prowess needs to be monitored, they could very well be a team we do not want to target in Daily Fantasy. I don’t like much about the Hawks’ bench players, but Tim Hardaway Jr. is at least worth monitoring, he’s shown to be a streaky scorer, if he ever finds consistency, he could be a useful fantasy asset.
Charlotte Hornets – This should be the Kemba walker show this year. This team was not very good in the preseason, and they played at a very slow place and played solid defense. I’m not sure this will continue, but worth noting. If they aren’t a great team, there will be a lot on Kemba’s shoulders this year, and he’ll definitely be a guy to target heavily. Nic Batum, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will also deserve consideration. Roy Hibbert really shouldn’t even be mentioned, but he did some stuff in the pre-season so I’ll put his name here, but he’s a guy I’d have to see it from a couple times before I even considered using him in Daily Fantasy. Frank Kaminsky would be much more likely to make my rosters than Roy Hibbert, but he suffered a foot injury and is questionable to begin the season. Jeremy Lamb and Marco Belinelli will also deserve attention off the Hornets’ bench, Al Jefferson and Jeremy Lin left and took most of the shots for the second unit with them, Lamb posted a 23.5 USG rate in the preseason, Belinelli 17.
Washington Wizards – I have to start this section off by admitting I have a strong emotional tie to this basketball team, but I do my best to evaluate them objectively, and I never miss a play so at the very least I’m plugged into the current state of the team. With all that said, I think the Wizards are being a bit undervalued to start this season. John Wall is coming off procedures to clear out both of his knees, but he looks like he’s firing on all cylinders and won’t be hindered at all. John has said that he’s been playing through pain in his knees for 3 years, if he’s now fully healthy and finds another gear, the rest of the league is in trouble. This team will go as John goes, he’s one of the most ball-dominant players in the league, and he played to a 27.8 net rating in the pre-season, although this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, a lot of this was against the 76ers. Bradley Beal, fresh off his max-contract, also looks primed for a big season. Brad lost about 10 pounds in the off-season to help take some of the pressure off his lower half, which he’s notably had injury problems with since he came into the league. He also spent the off-season religiously working on his ball-handling skills, which have always been his major weakness, he was a terrific jump shooter coming into the league and has only gotten better. Otto Porter showed improvement in his three point shooting ability down the stretch last season, and the 3 spot has always gotten fat off of wide-open 3’s playing with John Wall (see: Trevor Ariza, Paul Pierce’s corpse). New coach Scott Brooks also seems to have stressed cutting off the weak-side, and Otto’s gotten a handful of easy looks at the rim off of weak-side cuts in the preseason. Markieff Morris has shown to be a threat from 3 as well as the main threat to score on the box for the Wizards, with Marcin Gortat doing most of his damage setting screens and rolling to the basket or catching and shooting 10-12 foot jumpshots. The Wizards’ usage rates have all held true to last year’s numbers, so expect to see a heavy dose of John Wall, followed by Beal and Markieff, and then Otto and Marcin bringing up the rear for the starting unit. The first unit is very strong defensively, Wall and Beal are both good perimeter defenders who also protect the rim, Otto will struggle with stronger wings but is very solid otherwise, Markieff has really surprised me with how well he defends bigs down low, and Gortat is at least a competent rim protector.
The awesome thing about the Wizards, for Daily Fantasy purposes, is how terrible the second unit will be, lead by back up guards Trey Burke and Marcus Thornton, who are both awful and will quickly squander leads forcing the first unit back into action. Backup Center Ian Mahinmi is out for at least a month while recovering from meniscus surgery, leaving Andrew Nicholson and Daniel Ochefu as the back up big men. Andrew Nicholson has the potential to be a relevant fantasy option, he can shoot the 3 and has solid post moves, he’s currently the best offensive option for the second unit and may see some run with the starters. Kelly Oubre Jr. is a star in the making, he’ll see minutes with the starting unit and kick Otto down to the 4 for his stellar perimeter defense, as well as his ability to catch and shoot the 3 and play at the rim. He should get opportunities to attack the basket and create offense with the second unit, he’s an attractive option if you can project a blowout. I’m not sure he’ll be fantasy relevant immediately because there are too many mouths to feed, but he’s definitely very talented. Last but not least is my man Tomas Satoransky, a rookie the Wizards drafted and stashed back in 2012. He’s a very solid technical player with sneaky athleticism that can play the 1-3, he’s 20x the player Marcus Thornton is at this stage in their careers, but Coach Brooks seems insistent on giving Thornton the minutes at the back-up 2. Find me on twitter during the games to see how I feel about Marcus Thornton playing over Tomas Satoransky. Overall, I think the Wizards’ first unit will make for great DFS plays, and the opposing second unit players will make for sneaky values. If the Wizards stay healthy, I definitely like them to surpass their 42.5 win total, and I think if all the chips fall their way, they could finish as high as the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference.
New York Knicks – The New York Knickerbockers may be the biggest mystery in the NBA heading into the season. They’ve replaced Robin Lopez with Joakim Noah at Center, which could very well be a downgrade at this point, Noah did not look exceedingly spry in the preseason. They’ve brought in Derrick Rose to replace Jose Calderon, which is a definite upgrade in athleticism, but a definite downgrade in outside shooting and probably decision making as well. We didn’t get much of a look at their new point guard due to his civil trial during the pre-season, but the one game he did play in, he turned in an individual net rating of -37.8 with a defensive rating of 140.6. That’s very poor for those of you keeping track at home. They also brought in Courtney Lee to replace Arron Afflalo at Shooting Guard, and Knicks fans have to be happy about the fact that they won’t have to watch any more turnaround jumpers from Arron Afflalo. Lee posted a 69% TS in the preseason, albeit on a paltry 13 USG. As a team, the Knicks posted a 104.6 offensive rating and 103.7 defensive rating in the preseason, with Brandon Jennings manning the Point Guard spot for the most part. To start the year, I’ll be treating them as a green light matchup for both starting units, I think they’ll give up a ton of points, but I also think they can score enough points to stay competitive. Noah is a great passer at the 5 spot regardless of his athleticism, Derrick Rose can still break a defense down, if they can stop him from shooting the ball outside of the paint, he could end up being an offensive plus, but time will tell there. And they do have lethal shooters in Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, who are easily my two favorite options on this team to start the season. Kristaps posted a 62.3 TS% on a 24 USG in the preseason after posting a 51.8 TS% last year. We saw some ceiling games from him last year, and he may have broken down a bit towards the end of the year, but to start the season, I’m looking to roster Kristaps aggressively for sure. You know what you’re getting at this point with Carmelo, high shot volume (29.5 USG in preseason, 29.5 USG last year), but he may find a bit more efficiency this year with less offensive responsibility. He posted a 55.7% TS in the preseason, 53% last year. Also, this team still employs and plays Sasha Vujacic, so there’s no way they’re going to end up as a playoff team. Can’t happen.
Chicago Bulls – I’m not sure any team in the NBA changed as much as the Bulls this off-season. With that said, I think it makes sense to weight what we’ve seen in the preseason from this team very heavily when predicting what to expect in the regular season. The real 3 alphas on this team, at least the 3 USG leaders, are Dwayne Wade(26), Taj Gibson(25), and Jimmy Butler (24). Wade’s down 5.5 from last year, Jimmy is about the same, and Taj is up 10. Taj may be a bit undervalued in DFS to start the season. Robin Lopez and Rajon Rondo are both seeing the same usage they were last year when they were very playable options, and both showed ceilings. Rondo will always be a better play on DK because of the turnovers and triple double upside. The starters played at a pace of 104, and the team posted a 2.3 net rating in the preseason. Doug McDermott averaged the most minutes in the preseason, had a usage rate of 21, and put up a 53.3% TS. I’m definitely buying into him as the guy off the bench to play here, they’ll need his 3 point shooting to space the floor and they’ll hide him on defense. I’m not a fan of Mirotic in general, but I always think he’s playable against really poor defensive teams. Portis probably doesn’t have any kind of value at this point. I wasn’t that high on the Bulls coming in, but now that I’ve looked at them a little more closely, I think they could be solid DFS plays to start the year, especially Taj.
Orlando Magic – The Magic shipped out Victor Oladipo for Serge Ibaka and replaced Scott Skiles with Frank Vogel as their coach this offseason. The Magic didn’t bring in any new guards, so the starters will be Evan Fournier and Elfrid Payton. Elfrid more than doubled his 3 point attempts in the pre-season and still wasn’t making them, and C.J. Watson played pretty well in the pre-season, so that’s at least noteworthy. On the other-hand, Mario Hezonja did not play very well in the pre-season, and I’m a big fan of his talent, but he seems to be regressing on the court. Fournier’s preseason TS% was 62.3, he should be the go to scorer for this team. He posted a 23 USG rate, up from 20 last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that climb even higher in the regular season, I’ll be firing him up in DFS for sure, I hope he’s as cheap on Fanduel this year as he was last. Aaron Gordon should slide into the starting 3 spot, if he ever figures out how to shoot he’s going to be a monster in fantasy, but he’s still only at 42.5 TS% in the preseason. Jeff Green will probably get plenty of minutes at the 3 and put up a ton of shots with the second unit, and he’ll probably get extended run in any game the Magic are playing catch-up in, which could be a lot. Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic should start together at the 4/5 and rotate at the 4 while Bismack Biyombo plays the 5 off the bench. Ibaka spent a little more time at 4 in the preseason with Biyombo, and I’m assuming that’s because he’s a better defender, so that should continue. Ibaka also shot very well (61.8%) with an increase 3% increase in USG to 20.5, getting away from USG hogs Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant may give him a significant bump in fantasy production. I’ll be looking to play Serge and Fournier the most in DFS, I’ll probably fire Jeff Green up in good matchups, and Vucevic, Elfrid, and possibly one of Watson or Hezonja should all be relevant in fantasy.
Milwaukee Bucks – Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. That’s it, that’s all you need to know, next team. But seriously, these are stars in the making, or maybe already stars in Giannis’ case. Giannis posted a 59.5 TS% on a 27% USG rate while Jabari shot 57.2%T with a 26.1% USG in the pre-season. I don’t think this team will be very good at all, but any time they have a legit shot at competing, you need to jam both of those guys in your lineups. Greg Monroe could also be very fantasy relevant, especially early in the year, as the Bucks will be looking to showcase him for trade. I think Tony Snell’s (23% USG) a decent player, and Michael Beasley(29% USG) is also worth keeping an eye on. The under on their season win total (34.5) is worth a look.
Miami Heat – If my Wizards aren’t the most underrated team coming into this year, the Miami Heat definitely are. I’ll be looking to fire up the Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside combo in DFS every time out to start the season. Dragic posted a 115 offensive rating, 18.8 net rating, 63.1 TS%, 22 USG%, and 103.5 pace in the preseason, and I think we might be talking about Hassan as one of the 15 best players in the NBA a month into the season. I also suspect that Dragic’s usage rate will see a big spike as the regular season gets rolling. Dwayne Wade left a massive 31.5% USG crater on this team, Hassan ate up 5% in the preseason, but Dragic was barely above where he was last year with Wade, and Erik Spoelstra, who might also be the most underrated coach in the league, isn’t going to let Dion Waiters run around chucking terrible shots when the games matter. Josh Richardson, who is out with an MCL strain to begin the season, is another underrated player and will make an impact as the off-guard with Dragic when he’s healthy. Tyler Johnson is yet another solid player who’s going to get a bump with no Wade and Richardson to start the season, and he had a nice preseason with 62.4%TS and a 20 USG rate. Justise Winslow is already a great, incredibly versatile defender, like a Draymond Green lite, and he flashed a bit of a three point shot in the preseason, shooting 35.7% on 4.08 attempts per 36 minutes, up from 18.2% on 1.89 attempts per 36 minutes last season. I’m definitely not saying he will, but if he maintains that three point shot into the regular season, his fantasy value and this team’s win probabilities will get a bump. Derrick Williams and Luke Babbitt are set to split the minutes at the 4, I’ll let one of them prove to me that they have fantasy value before I invest in DFS. My favorite NBA future this year is the over on 35.5 wins for the Heat. The only thing that would give me pause would be the possibility of Hassan missing time with an injury, he struggled with them a bit last year, but he only missed 9 games. I’d like to see him drop some more weight, the biomechanics of maintaining your posture while lugging 260+ pounds up and down the hardwood work much more efficiently at lower bodyfat percentages. I still think they’d be ok in that worst-case scenario, backup Center Willie Reed played very well in preseason, he’ll definitely be someone to target if Hassan misses any time.
Philadelphia 76ers – I’m excited for the Sixers this year, mostly for the Joel Embiid show, if you don’t follow him on twitter, I would recommend it. Embiid put up an astronomical 37.8% USG rate, third in the league behind Anthony Davis and Demar Derozan. When he’s on the court, they are feeding him the ball, and he’s actually very skilled in the post with a little range. He may develop into a consistent 3 point shooter in time, he’s already proven to be a solid free throw shooter at 81.8% in the preseason while shooting 11.5 per 36 minutes. For reference, Demarcus Cousins shot 10.6 free throws per 36 minutes last season (eyes emoji). The main concern will be his limited minutes, but the Sixers have already hinted they may play him on back-to-backs, it’s really encouraging for his minutes per night projections that they’d be aggressive enough to use him on back to backs. Even if he’s only seeing 20 minutes to start the season, he’s produced at a 1.32 Draftkings points per minute clip in the preseason, he’ll be a lock on my rosters if he’s still in that 4.0-4.5K range when the season starts. Now, for the rest of the roster: I’m also excited to play Robert Covington and Jerami Grant (1.1 DK ppm in the preseason on 24% USG) this year, and I think Gerald Henderson will be in play if he gets the minutes, but we’ll need to see how their guard rotations shake out in the regular season. T.J. McConnell, Sergio Rodriguez, and Jerryd Bayless will all be involved, but I have no idea what to expect. Dario Saric is also going to see plenty of minutes at the 4 and get plenty of shots up, but I do not think he’s that good, he’ll need to prove he can be productive in real NBA games before I consider him. Richaun Holmes is the big guy to look for behind Embiid, but if Embiid’s minutes creep it, it’ll probably be at his expense.
Brooklyn Nets – This is just an awful, horrible basketball team, but they may actually be interesting for DFS purposes, especially Jeremy Lin, who put up a 77.3% TS in the preseason on a 27.7 USG Rate. I don’t think either of these numbers are sustainable, and he’s going to be a better play on Draftkings because he’s going to hit 3’s and turn the ball over in bunches, but he’s going to carry a lot of upside if he’s out there trying to shoot his team back into games every night, which he should be for sure. Linsanity has always been able to get and give up buckets, which we love for fantasy purposes. Brook Lopez should be about exactly what we saw last year, Trevor Booker is interesting to me because I think he’ll scoop up plenty of rebounds and he has a little offensive game, we all know Brook hates rebounding. Bojan Bogdanovic should get up plenty of shots this year as well, but he’s a guy I’m really only interested in playing against bad teams. I think Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is actually a decent basketball player, and he should get plenty of minutes as the only guy on the team that can play defense, if his price is right, he’ll definitely be in play. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I may even have interest in playing Luis Scola at times during the season to save salary cap, but that will most likely be a last ditch option. But seriously, he has fantasy upside if he’s going to play a bunch, he scored just over a Draftkings point per minute in the preseason.
My Projected Eastern Conference Standings:
11. New York